“We still don’t know the long-term effects of reading e-books vs. traditional hard copy books. Some studies show that people read slower on dedicated e-readers, and those who use tablets or computers or iPhones have a different reading experience, being constantly distracted by text messages, emails, Facebook, and other interruptions. Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains explores the changes in brain function that may result. Hyperlinked, multi-tasking readers do not have the same “deep reading” experience, and are less likely to store what they read in long-term memory.
In short, we face a revolution in reading not unlike the one Gutenberg introduced almost 700 years ago. Nowadays authors are coached on “building your brand” more than on improving their writing. Publishers care more about website stats and Twitter followers than the quality of an author’s work.
Frankly, I’m glad I’m as old as I am. It’s been fun living through publishing’s golden age. I’ll happily stick with the “deep reading” experience. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than browsing through the books in my office. They’re my friends—marked up, dog-eared, highlighted, a kind of spiritual and intellectual journal—in a way that my Kindle reader will never be.”
On Jan. 24 of this year, I posted about my terrific find at a local bookstore here in Austin. Just before Christmas I was browsing the shelves of our local Half Price bookstore. The first shelves I typically go to are the dollar discount ones. My eyes landed on a biography of H.L. Mencken. I knew some about the famous journalist, but thought the biography looked quite good. And it was tough to turn down a beautiful hardback for $1.00.
I was thumbing through the biography and out falls two letters from Mencken. I couldn’t believe it. A collectible store in Baltimore (Mencken’s home town) told me they were worth $400 and that they would pay me $200 for them.
I have found several treasures rummaging through old bookstores, but none greater than my most recent find.
I spied out an old biography on H.L. Mencken for $1.00. That alone was a find, but what was contained inside much better. As I thumbed through to make sure it was a clean copy, I found to my utter astonishment that there were two personal letters from Mencken on his personal stationary. And those two letters were just valued at $250 and $150 by a rare book dealer. You can’t have that experience at your local Barnes and Noble!